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Man of the day

Sir Ian Botham doesn't mince his words when he evaluates England's field settings.

Alastair Cook: Grinded out the runs on day two before falling to Nathan Lyon

For perhaps the first time in the series, Alastair Cook must have been feeling good about the way things were going with the bat.

Not only was he amongst the runs, albeit scratching them out rather than smashing them to all parts, but England also seemed like they could be set to bury the memory of their nightmare first-innings efforts at both the Gabba and Adelaide.

In combination with Michael Carberry he had put on 85 - the best opening stand of the series by either side - and then added a further 46 in partnership with the rather becalmed Kevin Pietersen.

By the close, however, Cook had fallen and the tourists were once again under pressure.


The left-hander will be disappointed with both outcomes, though perhaps the most by his actual dismissal. The cut shot is one of his major scoring options, so to lay back and steer spinner Nathan Lyon to point will be extremely frustrating.

It meant for the fifth time in a row the opener had passed 50 but then failed to go on and reach three figures. His score of 72 was decent, but not what he or his team would have really liked considering the scoreline in the series.

"I thought it was a really gutsy innings from Alastair Cook. He went right back to basics, which is scoring ugly runs."

Andrew Strauss

The innings was perhaps a microcosm of Cook's career; there were some fluent moments, not least early straight drives followed by some lovely shots square of the wicket, plus there was rock-solid work in defence. The hook shot that had been undoing in Adelaide was pretty much put away.

There also, however, was the constant fight with his technique, the need to go against the natural tendency to work the ball to leg as his head fell towards the off side.

He was tested, particularly by the excellent Peter Siddle, in and around the off stump, but found a way to survive. The scoring rate dried up but the Essex batsman has always been willing to grind them out. He is about substance over style, and his sheer determination has seen him move to the brink of 8,000 Test runs at the age of 28.

Having fought so hard he rather gave it away when his eyes lit up at a short delivery from Lyon. Rocking back he probably thought four runs were there for the taking. Instead all he did was miscue the ball with just enough power to allow David Warner to dive forward and take the catch.

'Gutsy' was the word used at the end of the day by Andrew Strauss to describe the efforts of his replacement as England skipper, and that perfectly sums it up. Nobody can ever accuse Cook of not digging in for the cause.

The problem now is he needs some of his team-mates to do the same if England are to have any hope of winning at the WACA.